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Quasi - Neumos - April 15, 2006
Sam Coomes on the fate of Quasi and the state of the world…
by Katie Sauro
Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss have been performing together as Quasi for thirteen years, an eternity for any band, releasing seven full-lengths and touring around the world, but as their involvement with other bands (Weiss with Sleater-Kinney, Coomes with The Pink Mountains) continues, it’s a small miracle the duo found any time to make When the Going Gets Dark, their latest album.
“Quasi used to be almost full time, but nowadays we’ve kind of backed off and we just sort of do it when we have a good chunk of time,” says Coomes. “We always have to sit down and plan things out for like six months, you know… it just takes planning and juggling.”
But despite insanely busy schedules and family considerations, don’t look for the Portland duo to stop anytime soon. Coomes describes Quasi as a “break-even” band that doesn’t really make money anymore, but as he so candidly reasons, that doesn’t much concern them. “So we don’t really have any particular kinda career, does that matter?” he questions. “No, it doesn’t matter, as long as we get whatever we wanna get out of it, we just do it for ourselves. So as long as that’s the case, we’ll just keep doing it.”
And do it they did—almost three years since releasing their last album, Hot Shit, Quasi’s latest, When the Going Gets Dark, released on Touch & Go, rocks harder than any previous record, a sign that they are far from finished. Coomes attributes this newfound immensity of their sound—which already seemed to be pretty huge for a two-piece—to the bass guitar heard throughout, which, with Weiss pounding away on the drums and Coomes thrashing around on both guitar and piano, they had used very sparingly on previous records.
The new album picks up where Hot Shit left off, though, frustratingly exploring the abundance of unfortunate political issues our nation faces, the Iraq War in particular, and willingly castigating the leaders of our seedy administration. Coomes recalls the exact moment when he found his inspiration for the songs on the last album, and, in effect, the new one, as well. A few years back, while sound-checking on stage in an L.A. club and simultaneously keeping an eye on the flashing news of a nearby TV, he witnessed U.S. planes dropping bombs on Iraq.
“It kinda blew my mind, I was sitting there, I was like, you know, people are being slaughtered by the thousands for some bullshit unjustified war, in our name really,” a resentful Coomes declares. “We pay taxes and they use that to buy those bombs that are killing all those people.”
“That was just kind of a catalyst that got my mind in that zone, and a lot of the stuff that wound up on the record came out of that sort of mindset,” he continues. “And it’s still going on, it’s still the same. Not much has changed, and that was like a long time ago, now. So the recent album also kinda reflects that, maybe not as intensely, but… it’s hard to ignore the situation.”
Coomes claims that he doesn’t understand songwriting, that ideas just occur to him and he puts them down on paper, but after twenty plus years of success in several bands, and with the lacerating politically-charged lyrics from his last few albums, his songs speak for a young generation of indie music fans unable to speak for themselves.
Quasi is set to tour the west coast in April, including a date in Seattle on the 15th, followed by short trips to the east coast and possibly to Europe, as well, before returning to other endeavors. Coomes’ Pink Mountains has an upcoming release, too, and plans are in the works for show dates. For more information, visit www.theequasi.com or www.tgrec.com.
The Venue: Neumos
The Support: Ex Girli, The Can’t See
The Date: April 15
The Time: 8pm
The Price: $10 advance, $12 day of show
The Catch: 21+